2018 Argentina MotoGP Sunday Round Up, Part 1: From Chaos Comes Victory

On Saturday after qualifying, I wrote about how one of motorcycle racing's defining characteristics is its unpredictability. That was written in response to a thrilling qualifying session which saw Jack Miller take pole by rolling the dice on slicks on a drying track, and outperforming everyone else. The rest of the grid had been pretty unpredictable too: Tito Rabat in fourth on the Reale Avintia Ducati GP17. Marc Márquez, the man who had been fastest by a country mile all weekend, only starting in sixth. Three first-time pole sitters in the three Grand Prix classes. Saturday at Argentina defied expectations.

Sunday at the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit made Saturday look positively straight-laced. Wild doesn't even begin to cover the events on race day. There were Moto3 riders gambling on slicks on a track with just a very narrow dry line. There were new names and fresh faces at the front of the Moto2 race, a thriller which went down to the wire. But when MotoGP came around, even those events were made to look positively mundane. So much happened that it will take several days to digest, let alone do justice to in writing. There were so many facets to this race that I will need more than one report to deconstruct it all. For now, we will start at the beginning, and work our way forwards from there.

It all begins with the weather. Heavy rain all night, followed by the track drying out through the course of the Moto3 and Moto2 races left the track in a difficult condition. The Moto2 bikes and their fat Dunlop rubber had at least cleared out a dry line around most of the track, but it was not very wide in places, and there was water crossing the track. Then a light rain started to fall as the riders prepared to leave pit lane, making them choose wets instead of slicks. All except Jack Miller, that is, who rolled the dice on slicks once again, determined to seize an advantage wherever he could find it.

Lord of misrule

From that point on, chaos reigned. New rules were invented to deal with the fact that sending everyone to start from the back of the grid basically leaves everyone starting from exactly the same place they were due to start from. There was a stalled and restarted bike on the grid, which would cause a ride through penalty, a wild chase through the field causing two more penalties and controversy to match Sepang 2015. And there was a fierce battle which saw a new name on the podium, rookies beating champions, an unexpected championship leader, and the 2018 title chase being thrown wide open.

Amidst the chaos and controversy, there was also a scintillating race. Four riders fought it out for most of the race, Cal Crutchlow and Johann Zarco deciding the race in the final corner complex in Argentina. As a spectacle, it was utterly breathtaking, but the battle at the front will likely be overlooked. The fight between Crutchlow, Zarco, Alex Rins, and Jack Miller deserves to have tens of thousands of words expended on it. But the chaos on the grid, the hastily improvised start procedure, Marc Márquez' ride through penalty and wrecking ball ride through the field, taking down his arch rival Valentino Rossi in the process, on these, the media will spend hundreds of thousands of words. Crutchlow, Zarco, Rins, and Miller deserve better. But you cannot always get what you deserve in this life.

This rubbed Cal Crutchlow up the wrong way. As race winner, he opened a half empty press conference with an attack on the press. "First of all, where’s all the media?" he asked rhetorically. The answer being that Argentina is already a sparsely attended event, a result of the cost and distance involved in getting there, and that a sizable portion of the journalists who were there were off chasing quotes from anyone in the Repsol Honda or Movistar Yamaha camps, after Marc Márquez had forced Valentino Rossi off track in a reckless pass at Turn 13, reigniting the cold war which had been simmering between the two since Sepang in 2015.

"It seems there’s a lack of respect for the show that we put on," Crutchlow castigated the media. "They’re looking to grab some of the headlines. The headlines are here. There’s three guys on the podium that just risked a lot for our teams, for ourselves. We pushed and this is disrespectful. In the end, the rest of these media people that don’t bother coming, they can not bother coming to the rest of my media for the rest of the year."

Courage, punished

His anger was justified. It had been a truly thrilling race, once it had finally gotten underway. Jack Miller had led in the early stages, an almost inevitable result of starting six rows further forward than the rest of the field. His starting position was a small recompense for his bravery in immediately going to slicks, instead of playing safe with wets and then changing his mind on the grid.

The rules dictate that any rider can leave the grid after the sighting lap can start the warm up lap from pit lane, but they will have to start from the back of the grid. What the rules didn't set out is what to do when 23 of the 24 riders on the grid start the warm up lap from pit lane. When everyone bar the pole sitter leaves the grid, then the back of the grid moves from the ninth row all the way up to P2, and everyone is back where they started before the change.

That is neither fair, nor in this case, is it particularly safe. To avoid the chaos which would inevitably ensue from 23 riders with a rough and ready grasp of the rulebook trying to figure out where they should be starting from, Race Direction delayed the start of the race. Ostensibly on safety grounds, though there was no immediate external danger. It was confusion which posed a hazard, and so to clarify the situation, and make sure everyone knew where they were supposed to start from, Race Direction pushed the start back by 20 minutes.

Solving problems on the fly

To their credit, they devised a relatively elegant solution to the conundrum with which they found themselves faced. Technically, the back of the grid was P25, behind the last official qualifier, but as one astute Twitter user observed, there weren't enough grid slots to put 23 riders starting at P25. So Race Direction pushed everyone bar Jack Miller back as far as they could go, being in this case, P17, giving Miller an advantage of 5 grid rows, or 48 meters.

The solution may have been elegant, but it was not particularly fair on Jack Miller. The Alma Pramac Ducati had had the courage and insight to go straight to slicks. If everyone had known the procedure, and not needed it explained to them, then Miller would have had a big advantage. As it was, he lost 20 minutes sitting on the grid, trying to calm his nerves. He had a special personal technique to do that, he explained: "Swearing a lot!"

Miller took it all surprisingly well. "It was what it was," he said after the race. "I mean, I feel we did the right thing, and we can't say that anyone else did the wrong thing, but it felt strange sitting on the grid when there's supposed to be 24 bikes on the grid and there wasn't one."

The solution found by Race Direction wasn't ideal, but it was workable. "They did the best that they could under such big pressure," Miller said. "This pressure situation, and then it started raining again, and I was just thing, oh Jesus, it's going to be another nightmare. But I think we can be really happy with how everything went for such a crazy day."

Fix one problem, another arises

After the new grid positions had been explained and handed out, the riders finally headed out for the warm up lap and lined up ready for the start. More chaos: Marc Márquez stalled his Honda RC213V on the grid just before the start. The correct procedure would have been for Márquez to remain seated on his bike with his arm raised, indicating he had stalled the bike. But Márquez attempted to start his bike, and succeeded. But he had to rush back to his grid slot, and after some confusion with the IRTA grid officials, he turned his bike around, rode back in the wrong direction along the grid to his starting position, and lined up as before.

That mistake would earn Márquez a ride through penalty, and that penalty would unleash a remarkable chapter in MotoGP. It is a story which will need space in the telling, and one to which I will return in the next part of this round up. For now, we must return to the race. As Cal Crutchlow pointed out in the press conference, that's where the headlines were, or at least deserved to be.

Jack Miller got a strong start, but his 50 meter lead merely cast him as a hare to be followed by the hounds, or rather the wolves, as he himself put it. By the end of the first lap, the pack had chased him down, Marc Márquez snapping at his heels. Márquez was past the Australian on the next lap, powering past him as they raced along the back straight.

The Repsol Honda rider was unleashed, but by this time, he was under investigation for his behavior on the grid. A ride through penalty was duly issued, and after gapping Miller by just under 2 seconds in five laps, Márquez dived back into the pits to serve his punishment.

Four way

With his target gone, Miller's pace dropped just enough for Alex Rins to drag Johann Zarco and Cal Crutchlow to the front. With the four riders together, a fierce battle unfolded which saw the lead change hands and places swapped as riders exploited their relative strengths. Rins attacked Miller at Turn 5, but couldn't make it. He tried again at Turn 7, and got past into the lead, only to hand it back immediately after running wide. A lap later, they swapped place again, Rins attacking Miller, Miller attacking Rins, while Zarco and Crutchlow cozied up behind them.

Rins finally got through and opened a lead, only to run wide at Turn 7, paying the price for running wide and getting onto the still damp tarmac. His three fellow leaders all swooped past underneath, dropping Rins from first to fourth.

A lap later, it was Jack Miller's turn to run wide. The Australian got in a fraction too hot through the tricky Turn 13 and ended up on damp asphalt. The other three leaders came past him, dropping him to fourth. He would never recover the gap to the leaders again, and would come home a slightly disconsolate fourth place.

"It's a bit bitter-sweet, that's for sure," Miller said after the race. "After leading the race for so long, and taking the pole, it hurts a little to not come away with a podium. But, all in all it was a good day. I tried to ride smart, especially on the first laps with all the commotion that went on on the grid. Just tried to keep my emotions in check and be as mature as I could be, I guess, which sometimes isn't my strong point. So I was happy with that, and then just a couple of costly mistakes later on in the race, at the front feeling a little bit the pressure from the rear. Ran wide at the last corner onto the wet stuff, and then tried to make it all back up in Turn 1 and ran nearly completely off track and onto the wet stuff again. So that wasn't very cool. But apart from that, really really good day, good weekend, can't thank the team enough."

Then there were three

There were three left at the front, but the battle was clearly between Cal Crutchlow and Johann Zarco. Crutchlow led at first, only to relinquish the place to Johann Zarco when he hit a patch of water. Zarco took over at the front for a couple of laps, but with two laps to go, Cal Crutchlow seized the opportunity to take the lead. From there, he had the race under control, though Zarco gave his all to try to get back at him again. The Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider closed up in the final section and did what he could to get within striking distance of the LCR Honda, but Crutchlow would prevail. The Englishman went on to take his third Grand Prix victory and Honda's 750th, and take over the lead in the championship as a result of the carnage behind him.

"I knew this weekend that I could win or finish second at this Grand Prix, wet or dry," Crutchlow said after the race. "Honestly speaking, I spoke to Lucy before the race, and I was not happy, just because of the weather and this that and the other, and she said to me, you can easily be on the podium, even from tenth, and you can win. And with two laps to go, there's no doubt I can win this, whatever happens. I also thought it on the starting line, and then the start of the race, the first ten laps of the race, I was just sat in a very comfortable position, out of the slipstream, not taking the same lines as them on the water as well, because I was concerned that if one of them crashed on the water, then they would take me with them."

Taking those different lines helped him save his front tire, and that was the key to success. "I was trying to take a completely different line to them on the water, and I think it was working well for me, because I was losing onto the back straight, which I was happy with. Because I wanted to save the front tire as well, the front tire was way too soft for me. Even in these conditions, we should have gone with the one step harder front tire. So I think that we managed the situation very well. I won the race at the slowest possible speed, to be honest. I could have gone to the front and probably gone away, but I didn't need to take the risk. I knew that if I needed to pass them, I could, and I knew where, and I did."

New era, new names

Crutchlow was impressed by the two men he shared the podium with, and saw it as a harbinger of more battles at the front for them. "I have to give credit to Johann and Alex for their podiums as well, but look at the sheer facts, these guys were also battling for the win and for the podium in Qatar. They've stepped up their game. And also Jack, he was there in the fight starting in Qatar. I told you that ten guys could be on the podium this weekend, and you would have got great odds on that result today."

Crutchlow's victory puts him at the head of the title race, the first British rider to lead the championship since Barry Sheene in 1979. He was assisted by the title favorites faltering badly. Andrea Dovizioso finished sixth, and is now just 3 points behind the LCR Honda rider. Johann Zarco added to his tally by finishing second after a more modest eighth in Qatar. Maverick Viñales trails Crutchlow by 17 points after finishing in fifth. But Marc Márquez is in fifth after failing to score points after being penalized by 30 seconds for causing Valentino Rossi to crash, and Rossi was left empty handed after the crash caused by Márquez.

The story of how that came about, how Márquez demonstrated at the same time that he is both the most talented rider on the grid, and the most reckless and dangerous, will have to wait for tomorrow. It is a tale that needs to be told at length. The last word has not been said about Argentina. Nor will it be for a very long time to come.


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Total votes: 225
Total votes: 57

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Comments

Thank goodness you have done this the way you have. Put the dramas aside for a moment and you saw a top class race between four worthy contenders that went down to the wire. They thorughly deserve to be given the accolades that go wiht their achievements.

Millers maturity was highly noteworthy. Alex Rins displayed great skills and Suzuki must be beaming with the way he finished. Yes he can improve and the most certainly will. Zarco ..... what a breath of fresh air. I love watching him race. I love his attitude towards racing as well. And last but certainly by no means least, that was a great race from Cal. He timed it to perfection and it was a strategically run class in turning risk into opportunity.

Congratulations to the four of them for putting on such a wonderful display. I was pleased with the way that they fought hard and clean. The conditions meant there were always going to be mistakes made that potentially cleaned up someone but they all showed true racing spirit.

As for the dramas, stayed tuned for the next episode of “Pot calling the Ketlle Black” ..... or then again, just ignore it and look forward to the next race which is bound to be just as tight and thrilling.

Thanks David for avoiding the fanboy bile fest which is about to occur.

Total votes: 115

yes it is. Now I cant stop hearing it in my head!! Curse my evil genius😂😂

Total votes: 34

It’s a shame that Jack was effectively penalised for making the correct call and it was a shame that Marquez ruined, what was truly an heroic ride at blistering pace, by his impatience.  Of all people to take out, Rossi is clearly the worst (although if Karma would have it, not an unworthy recipient).  The pull Rossi has with fans and media alike means that you will only make yourself the devil.  I’m pretty sure, that isn’t the avatar that Marquez wants to play.  Some like to play that role, but Marquez is not that rider.  He just blindly wants to win all races at all costs. 

No discredit to Crutchlow, but I was really hoping one of the other three guys in the leading battle could get the win.  For Johan and Alex, not yet having a win, and Miller for his courage and skill over qualifying and the race.  It would have at least left a slightly less bitter flavour in my mouth for the impending shitstorm that will certainly come by the Rossirati. The sport is so good now, we don’t need Sepang 2.0…. but I feel we are gonna get it.

…. And can someone please chain Uccio up.  Having him front for Rossi was massively gutless. Rossi, you don’t want to accept an apology?  Do it yourself then. Cowardice to make proclamations to the media about how you will “fix Marquez up”, but not face the man yourself.  Already Rossi is coming out with conspiracy that Marquez intentionally tries to make riders crash.  What BS.  The only thing intentional is Rossi trying to inflame the situation.

Total votes: 180

in another time there would have been some hard beating in the back of the trucks... (remember the punching that went on with Biaggi?)  Uccio made the right move if they had walked in it would have ended in a fist fight. Look at the images, you have the whole Yamaha team standing up in line and Jarvis raising his hand as to say stop, walk not further! 

 

 

Total votes: 95

I'm reminded of Jerez 2011, in which an overzealous Rossi took out one Casey Stoner in the wet, and managed to get his bike restarted while Stoner did not. And then he proceeded to Stoner's garage after the race to apologize, and Stoner had the famous "ambition outweighing talent" comment. Good times. So if Rossi expects others to meet his apology, I would hope he extends the same courtesy when the roles are reversed.

Total votes: 42

The man doesnt wear Team Yamaha colours.  He struts around like he has some level of importance and influence, when really he is like one of those old European guys you see sitting on the cafe bench with his mates talking shit about the world in front of them and pretending they have done anything with their lives.  

For Uccio to be the one to turn Marquez away is ludicrous. in what capacity is Uccio more important than Marquez?! The less I see of Uccio the better.  Now if only we can convince the director of the live feed.... 

Total votes: 47

Uccio did the right thing turning Marquez away because by his blocking the way to the "visitors" things stayed in the relm of "handbags at dawn" between the two riders. At Marc's shoulder was Alberto Puig, behind Uccio was Lin Jarvis. Without Uccio it would have been the Yamaha team boss denying access to the Honda team boss, that would be a whole different ball game.

Total votes: 35

when Uccio is dealing with the situation instead of Lin Jarvis.

Wonder how much longer corporate Yamaha will be patient with this circus?

Total votes: 45

Oh boy. Here we go.
Well done David, thanks for starting there, outstanding journo job as usual.

Funny, on just Friday I was reading your pre weekend write up. When I saw "In 2015, he (Marquez) crashed out when his front wheel clipped the rear of Valentino Rossi's Yamaha, after the Italian had hunted down his early lead. That incident was the beginning of the end for any semblance of cordiality between the two, and laid the foundations for the fractious end to a controversial season" I had one and only one stand out thought: How NICE to really and finally have all that so far in the rear view that a simple statement like this can be made and no shite comments ensue.

A day and a half. I rejoiced in resolution for a day and a half!?
Ergh

Weirdest GP I can remember

Total votes: 60

I just had schizoid processes, one one shoulder "let's just focus on the race." Then "MIKE WEBB, DO SOMETHING!" Ok, the wish to just focus on the racing brings a tad of panic that we won't be able to. Thus the urgency for race direction. Whew! I am not losing my mind.

Four different bikes in the top four.
One is a factory bike, and it is a SUZUKI. And a ton of motor.
The four bikes were getting around the track in quite different manners, which interested me.
BTW, Lorenzo will go Suzuki, Zarco to HRC, and I will bet anyone a pint. Except one of you, where it would be a pint and a bottle of wine.

This season just did something significant, didn't it? Is this the April 1st post still? That can't be real. That is crazy.

Mike Webb, swift simple clear strong intervention please. This is bigger than the Moto3 tows. We need to get back to our scheduled program. And yes, you let Canet set a tone. We don't need an impolite era, just tough close racing thanks.

Total votes: 63

I'm on ! no Honda for Zarco! 

bottle of wine. If I remember well it's Amarone... :)

 

Total votes: 32

Justice would have been - considering the safety aspects attendant on a start of 23 bikes from pit lane vs from the grid - if the rest of the field had been released from the grid once Miller had passed the pit lane exit.

In uncertain track conditions. the leader has the disadvantage of those following being able to see and use to advantage what the leader discovers about the conditions. 

48 meters of 'handicap' is NOT the same as passing the rest of the field at considerable speed already before they are released.  I don't know the Hondo layout,  but for most tracks that '48 meters' (plus whatever length there is from the pit exit line to the track proper) would be very considerably stretched before riders exiting onto the track were in eye-sight of a bike that had passed at full bore - giving Miller some breathing-space.

I have sympathy for the conundrum that faced the Race Director - but the solution was less than fair (though certainly safer than the obvious alternative) to Miller.  Not only was 'the rule' chucked out, but on quiet reflection, the spirit of the rule was ignored. 

Fairly evidently, the 'rules' for motoGp are not set in stone for the major players of the field. There is flexibility to advance the exposure of the 'majors'.

OK, nobody but a simpleton would think that - nowadays - motoGp is any more a 'sport' than TV Wrestling. It is entertainment - and certainly is entertaining - but any idea that it is 'pure' of spirit, is ingenuous.

Total votes: 44

Agreed - credit to Miller for dealing so well with an outcome that wasn't fair to him. I'd go a bit further than you & say that, even so, race direction came up with a reasonable solution to the problem when there were lots of bad options.

But what I don't get is the decision to delay the start for "Safety Conditions". The field had the option of starting on their wets. What's unsafe about that? My point is that the decision to delay was made by the teams with their feet. It seems to me that Race Direction lost control.

Total votes: 58

I do not envy you on weekends like this David. Great as always, looking forward to part 2. 

I know there probably wasn't a quick solution, but Miller really got cheated out of some serious time.

why not keep the grid as is? Two sets of lights. Miller gets his light and the rest of the grid goes on the second light 15-20 seconds later? Maybe that's a bit much but technically shouldn't all those riders had to start from pit lane? 

Total votes: 45

I appreciate how you stayed focused on the race and the battle for the lead which was quite epic.  Cal, Rins, Miller, and Zarco fighting tooth and nail for EVERY millimeter.   This win must be Crutchlow's best not just for being a great battle he won, but also because it now makes him title chase leader.  Congrats to him.  This has shown all the work, development, and pure drive he has is paying off. But even after saying and reading your well written piece... I am REALLY looking forward to seeing what you write in Part Two! Lol! 

Total votes: 29

Dovi must be quitely seeing his sixth place as a huge win in terms of the championship. 24th on Friday, scrapes through to Q2 on Saturday to 8th on the grid and ends up bagging 10 points on Sunday. That 6th place could have easily been 10th or lower had Marquez, Rossi, Aleix and Dani not had their issues. The GP18 was clearly all at sea. I guess Dovi will take it as lucky break for him this year at Rio Hondo given his rotten luck there in seasons past. As was pointed out by many last season the fact that when things went wrong for Ducati they would finish outside the top 10 rather than get decent double figure points. Lorenzo must be at his wits end. Big shout out to the top four. They put on a great show.

 

Total votes: 36

I'm a Dovi fan since his Honda days, so I can take or leave Rossi, but one thing that people use is the fact that Rossi is getting some of his own medicine back and start citing examples (like the Gibernau one above).  Maybe, maybe not, but there is no denying that Rossi's misdemeanour's have spanned +20 years where Marquez has a worse history in a fraction of the time.

In 2015 the officials basically pronounced that Rossi disrespected the safety of Marquez, hence the penalty.  Fair enough.  But after this weekend it is writ large tha Marquez disrespects the entire field and rules by which they race.  Worse, he doesn't sound the slightest bit contrite, blaming a patch of water, as though the conditions were a complete suprise.  

It is a rubbish excuse to say "I asked the officials, and was given conflicting answers" (sic) when as a  professional racer, a multi-time world champion, YOU SHOULD KNOW THE RULES!  This is his core duty, and to not know the procedure for a simple stall is worse than amateur hour.   

And, as a Kiwi I am struggling to come to terms with Race Direction.  I could have forgiven Canet his indiscretion had it been during the race, but in practice? Nup, you're gone son, for the same reason Rossi was punished above.  But as it stands Race Direction have now tied their own hands: they either look inconsistent, or incompetent.  MotoGP may have been a better show than F1 but it was a black comedy of errors not high quality drama.   

As it stands though Marquez has already achieved a success: after this weekend what rider, after seeing "Marquez +0.0" behind them on their pitboard wouldn't pick the bike up hearing a bike coming up the inside?  Job done.  

I'm no Jack Miller fan either (hey, it's a Kiwi/Aussie thing), but Jack, you were absolutely ripped.  I like the re-gridding format, clever solution to a tricky problem, but there should have also been an estimated time difference applied (a "virtual" pitlane, if you will) where the rest of the field started on a second light.  We do it at club level with mixed fields, it ain't that hard, and would have been a lot fairer.  But it's all coulda shoulda woulda now.

   

Total votes: 43

A more ying/yang race weekend you will probably never experience.

The good side was that there were debut podiums for riders (although even as a Brit, I wanted Zarco to win), a debut polesitter in Moto GP, excitment and entertainment.

The bad side is that we are about to see an escalation of the hostilities that had finally started to fade to a new, potentially all time high. Whichever side of the fence you sit on (and I am sure protagonists for both sides will shout out their opinions long and hard for the foreseeable future), the one thing that everyone must agree on is that no matter how many headlines it generates, this is not good for the sport of motor racing.

 

Total votes: 37

this is gonna be a long week David, I wonder how many thousands of words will be needed to really give the big picture... as a rule I would wait for all your comments before posting, but not this time. Shame on race direction! shame on Marquez! and a big shame for all of us and the sport that the incredible race of the 4 at the front was overshadowed by sheer incompetence from race direction and the totally unacceptable behaviour in bad faith of MM.

Miller was unjustly penalized. I understand that safety was an issue but to let him hang alone on that grid for 20 bloody minutes and "reward" him with a ridicolous 48 m advance was a joke! they should have given 50 seconds penalty to all the riders who left the grid and get on with it !

And then the farce of 93 bike stalling... FFS ! to add insult to injury MM had the guts to say that he "did not know what to do"...  He should have been black flagged right then and there, and we would have had a faboulous race. concentrating on those new magnificent 4 really going at it. 

Rins is finally showing his talent, Miller proved that he has matured, Cal might surprise us with more wins now that his bike is defintely better. Zarco is another matter : first, given Syahrin performance I do mantain that the Tech3 M1 are still extremely competitive bikes, besides that, I think that JZ move on Pedrosa should be looked into. 

And now to the shameful arrogant spectacle of the guy with the greatest talent and the worst attitude ever. Jarvis is right : during the whole weekend MM was barging into any rider on his course almost for fun. No consideration, no aknowledgment that he is not alone on the track. His trademark is gunning for the leg from behind and just pushing. He just cannot be bothered to make an effort for a clean pass. And it needs to stop. They are right in the Yamaha camp to say that most riders could do the same, but then in a couple of races there would be no more races as all riders would be in hospital. And what's most unforgivable is, again, that he makes a point in adding insult to injury, each time, by saying some moronic excuses like "I was on my line in the inside" "there was a patch a water i did not expect" "i was already inside and don't know what happened" "I went for the leg but I said sorry"... 

MM has all the talent in the world. It's a shame his talent got to his head.

 

 

Total votes: 131

Thats not entirely fair mgm, you of all people know better.

That last corner at Argentina over the years, through all classes has brought very similar incidents. Its not just Marquez that has been suckered into a pass when he see's a gap only for the rider in the front to close it at the last second. Add to it tricky conditions, you were bound to see multiple incidents in that corner. Which we did throughout the weekend in all classes. 

I agree he was too optimistic with the passes there but that is just the nature of that corner. I dont think it was done with Malice or intent to crash into others. Yes he has done very crazy moves in the past but alot of those overtakes were on corners that were straight cut, this particular corner is a very different corner and its not fair the way diehard Rossi fans crucify him without looking at the circumstances. He got a penalty and 0 points, thats fair enough. No need to shame him more, or should we just have processional racing, with each of them following each other like F1?

Total votes: 51

"I think that JZ move on Pedrosa should be looked into"

Thank you, that's not gotten much attention, but Zarco essentially did the same thing Marquez did and went for an obviously non-existent gap. Not the first time for Zarco either. These guys really need to calm down and pass where it's possible. They're both incredibly fast and don't need to risk the lives of others.

Total votes: 44

Dani ran wide after Zarco’s move and then it went pear-shaped through over-application of the throttle.

Watch the slo-mo of the video.  Dani runs mildly wide onto wet line, after Zarco stuffs his bike into the slot,  and then gives it a big handful, the rest is history.

Total votes: 46

Nice piece David, I couldn't agree more. Whilst I understand Cal's frustration at his win being overshadowed by the Marquez incidents, I do wish he'd been more like Dani Pedrosa at Sepang in 2015 when he gave a wry smile and observed "no-one will remember that I won this race" then went on to say that he wasn't really bothered as he'd know that he'd won and that was why he races bikes. Now I'm sure it DID bother him somewhat but it was a masterful piece of self-control to hide any frustration whereas Cal came across as a bit petulant. 

As for the rest of it, I thought Zarco was going to win his first race (and was willing him to do so), Rins seems to have really found his rhythm and Jack was brave and consistent compared to some of his past efforts. Unsung hero of the day for me was Hafizh Syahrin getting a top ten. I interviewed him at the Qatar test and he was such a charming, pleasant, humble character but with a great humour. 

Looking forward to your next piece on this and for my part, hoping that Mike Webb will have Marquez in his office when they get to Texas and have a quiet but firm word along the lines of "your card is marked, you're on probation and any repetition will be more severe than before"

Total votes: 40

Listening to Cal's motoGP parc ferme interview really got to me.  After battling for the lead, and losing it more than once, he gave a speech about how it was to be expected that he won, and that he really didn't need to stay in the group with Miller, Zarco, and Rins - because they were riders that he really shouldn't be fighting with - that he could have just gone to the front and cleared off any time.

I know Cal likes to run his mouth, but I thought he was more disrespectful of the other riders than the press were of him.

Total votes: 38

You're the 'go to' chap as ever to reflect on a race.

Crutchlow quite right to be miffed. What a race, and he played it perfectly.

I was surprised Zarco didn't get a penalty for punting Pedrosa, still, racing incident I guess. I'm not prepared to join the club that always knows better than Mike Webb from their armchair.

Total votes: 50

My two cents worth would have Miller given a credit for the amount of time that it would have taken other riders to enter the pits, change bikes, and get back on to the track again. That would compensate him the correct amount of time at least. Easy to be smart without the stress of tv schedules, fans waiting, etc.

If DORNA is worried about the effect of Rossi retiring, now is a good time to focus on some of the other amazing talent and skill that will continue on into the future, not let the "reality TV" mentality dumb down a great series. There will always be bitch slapping and hissy fits, but the racing is good enough to be it's own star. Save the histrionics for F1, that's all they've got.

Total votes: 51

With the grid of 1 formed up, I was anxious that in the ridiculous 20 minute delay, the rain would return and the others would start on their wet bikes. Poor Jack was cheated, but unlike you know who I think everyone watching was impressed by his conduct throughout. If VR or MM had found themselves as the one man grid I think things might have started differently. I know their 4th place interviews would have been less impressive. 

The form of JL on the career ending desmo is sad to see. The long list of Ducati riders who have quickly switched to anything else makes Dovi, Petrux, Miller and Pirro all very impressive indeed. And the other Aussi guy.

Total votes: 40

...where also the incredible races in moto2 and moto3 will be commented.

Italian press (the Sky motogp TV team I'm specifically referring to) was the worst yesterday. Not one word on the incredible rides of the top 4 guys, but what's even crazier not a word on Bezzecchi and Pasini winning their races with such authority! And they're Italians too!

Lucky me that I have motogp.com subscription and I can follow the events with the reliable British commentators.

Total votes: 37

Really fantastic performances by the top three, plus Miller of course and an outstanding ride by Syahrin. Crutchlow deserved his win, but he really doesn’t get any more conciliatory with age, does he?? I totally understand why he’s so abrasive, even in victory, but it makes me sigh a bit as well - does the image of British riders no favours at all when the elder statesman is so unable to dial down the prickliness just a notch.

As for the Márquez/Rossi situation, good on ya David for avoiding the knee jerk hot take. It’s going to get nasty. I don’t think anyone is coming out of it well so far. The live media debriefs were unfortunate, official control during the race weekend very weak and I hope both race Direction and Dorna do better in future.

Total votes: 71

I'd really like to give the front four their dues for a well riddent race, and to consider it a shame that their efforts will go overlooked on lesser sites, but I can't do it, I just can't find any sypathy for Crutchlow. I found his parc ferme comments arrogant and disrespectul to his competitors, and his press conference comments childlike.

All too often the talented are not likeable people.

Total votes: 44

Have to say I agree. As a patriotic Brit, even I struggle to support Crutchlow at times. I am sure that lots of people will say he is a nice person if you actually know him; however his public persona is that of a petulant teenager. The way he spoke to Neil Hodgson a few years ago was downright rude. He won a great race and of course deserves to be commended, however when the favourite for the title and the most popular rider the world has ever seen; who just happen to hate the very sight of each other having a serious coming together, it is only natural that the press (who get paid for headlines/clicks BTW) want to find out about it to get the story. Even in the UK - Crutchlow is not a big name outside of Motorcycling and for a sport that is very Spain/Italy focused, Rossi and Marquez will always, ALWAYS get top billing.

Saying "don't bother coming to press events for the rest of the year" is a very childish thing to say and one that I am sure his sponsers do not endorse. He needs to realise that it is not, nor ever will be "all about him" and he'd probably attract more of the neutral fans if he chose his words a little more carefully.

Total votes: 36

Remember then teammate Miller taking him out with a bonehead move at Silverstone 2015?  Whatever went on behind the scenes in the garage, it obviously did not lead to long-term bad feelings on either side.  An example other riders could learn from.

Total votes: 35

its hard to avoid the thought that a different solution would have been found if MM93 or VR46 had been the pole sitter.

At the time, I was wondering why Race direction couldn't have organised a restart from pit lane in grid order?  Standing starts at 2 sec intervals etc?  Unusual, inelegant but safe and fairer to the pole sitter if galling for the poor saps at the back!

Total votes: 40

          if Race Direction had done the correct thing at the correct start time all the other rubbish would never have happened!

                        Thanks Beamer12

Total votes: 54

the original start was a sort of a race 'coup', 'boycott' or a 'hijack', Miller was highly disadvantaged and has handled it very well I think.  Shows how he has matured from his earlier days.  All of the riders who left the grid should have been held there 40-50sec or whatever an in-race pitstop tends to take.

Then, Marquez should have been black flagged for his start, you don't even get away with that in club racing for goodness sake.

...all from my armchair of course.  :)

Instead, we have a compromised (but marvellous!) race and can look forward to months of vindictive narrative from the yellow and red corners... oh great.

Total votes: 52

I had not dare to forecast the bikes becoming more competitive towards each other. If the first two races is a prelude of what is to come for the rest of the season we have some splendid races in front of us.

Total votes: 32

The German site Speedweek reports that; "what happens in Argentina stays in Argentina"

"There will be no further penalties against Marc Márquez after these incidents on Sunday," Race Director Mike Webb said in an exclusive interview with SPEEDWEEK.com. "Once an incident has been dealt with and a sentence pronounced, we cannot impose any further penalties. Since we no longer distribute penalty points, we will award the penalties on the day of the race, if that is possible and appropriate. "

So the question for me is not who is guarding the hen house, but rather if they are employed by the hens or the foxes? I would be fine if MM were gridded at the back in Austin, and I am fine if he is not penalized further, if that decision was made by Race Direction after a careful examination of the facts and strictly in the best interest of the sport. Race Direction, like any good Deity, should never be the lead story, but rather an important guiding influence that should otherwise be all but invisible. But they also need Old Testament powers to occasionally smite as-required to maintain at least a veneer of safety and respect in an otherwise dangerous and wonderful sport. As has been pointed out elsewhere, that's not easy, especially since so many  of the top riders currently exist only within their own Talent Management bubbles, each with its own requisite share of Iago's. The days of sharing a cuppa with other riders around their caravans are part of the dimly membered past (at the top levels anyways). And we can all recognize that racing is, has been, and always will be a rather "bitchy" affair at the corner's apex.

But nobody respects a neutered Deity. If the only response from Race Direction is: "we have repeatedly asked you nicely to mend your ways...you leave us no choice but to nicely ask you again"...it just won’t have the same effect as a blinding flash of light that leaves behind only a whiff of ozone and a 60 Kg pillar of salt where a rider once stood. Cheers.

Total votes: 69

I'll be blaming Race Direction instead of Marquez next time MM93 decides to torpedo multiple riders in a race. At some point, it becomes obvious that the racer isn't going to mend his ways without outside intervention, and if RD refuses to intervene, 93's behavior becomes their responsibility. Saying "the rules don't allow us to punish him further" is not enough to keep other riders safe from this guy. If the rules don't allow, change the rules. It's been done before.

Total votes: 48

The race start proved that rules are flexible.  I'm a fan of Marquez's talent, but I'm finding it hard to be a fan of his behaviour.  Penalty points are gone, but I do hope that Webb pulls Marquez and his team in and lets them know that they won't have the blind eye turned to even minor infractions from now on.

Total votes: 37

Great call focusing on the podium battle. Thanks for doing it that way. 

Clearly they need to work on the rules for these starting eventualities. A similar thing happened at Silverstone a few years back, except they were saved the chaos as every single rider came in.

IMHO

'In the event of multiple riders starting the race from pit lane, riders will be released in 2 second intervals after the green light, in the order in which they arrive at the end of pit lane'

would fix it.

Also MM should have been black flagged for his grid mistake.

 

Total votes: 35

Must say I like the solution RD made on the start. No way 23 bikes coming out of pitlane were going to make it. Now they need to formalize it in the rule book and make sure they have 47 grid positions painted on the tarmac for the next time. MM stalling and the gesticulation of MV? Reminds me of me yelling at RD about stalled bikes during my career. Rossi? Would he like a bit of cheese with that whine? Man biffed many off the track in his career. That said, I thought the 30 second penalty was perfect but I'd be fine with an additional back of the grid start for MM at COTA. No way that could lead to more biffing, right?

Total votes: 60

Please tell me more about these million dollar motorbikes, with the best electronics packages. That could surely be programmed to alert (inform race control) when they are 'aggressively' knocked off path by another, (Dorna regulated) electronic package! We have fifty year old Pinball Machines that can alert to being tilted by their players. Maybe if MM knew his bike will automatically drop 50hp on 'hard' contact with another bike, we would no longer have the results of his frequent mistakes.

Total votes: 41

I'm probably most excited to finally see Rins start to ride closer to his talent level.  Hope he's at the pointy end much more often!

Total votes: 32

Three cheers for Cal Crutchlow and his statement about the press not showing up at the post race interview. Well said Cal.

Marquez sure did screw the pooch by being too impatient on his ride thru the field......but at the same time humiliated the rest of the field by the disparity of his speed vs the rest all week long. For what it's worth, I'm not a big Marquez fan.

The Zarco/Pedrosa incident was nothing but a racing incident cause by the puddles of water at that area of the track. 

 

 

 

Total votes: 44

Great article following brilliant start to the season.  Excelleing ride by Cal, controlled the race following MM antics & deserved winner, great rides from Rins, Miller & Zarco too - so much to enjoy and talk about, whats not to like?

Total votes: 45

David, not even a mention of Zarco's questionable maneuver on Pedrosa?  This one will be quite divisive because I do think there are valid points on both sides.

WRT to Cal's press conference leader, I know Cal has a reputation for telling it "like it is"; however, what he's really doing is telling "how Cal thinks it is."  I thought it was rude and petulant.  His true colors bleed through his arrogance, "those members of the press not here now are no longer welcome in my media releases."  [paraphrasing just a bit] .  This, not his crash record, is why he will never be a "factory" rider again.

Total votes: 33

... just utter madness. There was a lot to enjoy about yesterday, but also a lot to frustrate and shock. 

Sure am glad I'll be in Austin for the next chapter ;)

Total votes: 41

Race direction did the correct thing, the rules were followed but the scale of the problem made things look like a fudge. The riders had not been flagged away on their warm up lap so it was right to delay the start for safety reasons. A shame for Jack Miller but that's life. He did get the benefit of starting well in front of his rivals, although if the alternative suggestion of him starting on time with a dangerous free for all behind him had unfolded, we would be having a different conversation with race direction still coming in for heavy criticism. 

The race unfolded as it would have done in any case, the only question being, would MM's tyres have lasted to the end and would Cal Crurchlow have overhauled him?

Total votes: 40

I saw a marshal grab Marquez, stop his bike and point at the wall. Marquez totaly ignored him and went about his business as usual. Should have been black flagged.

Clearly he doesn't know the rules.

Performance of the day has to go to Jack Miller's team, who somehow kept a lid on him post-race. He was flat out robbed.

I haven't seen any evidence of Zarco touching Pedrosa either.

Total votes: 52

That person is " reckless and dangerous." That person should have learned about stuff " you don't even get away with (that) in club racing " when it was still a kid. That person didn't get enough direction, discipline & guidance from it's parents or race direction. In my opinion.

Total votes: 48

Again we had an epic race, nobody would have predicted and you really brouoght it all together with this. In Qatar we get slick sand here in Argentina we get a soaking wet track. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the stories too. I anticipate more to come once the circus lands in Austin. In the mean time I'm going to rewatch that QP2 run of Miller's and the races. All of them were great heart in mouth entertainment as my wife cried, "Don't fall, don't fall", "be careful" at each turn. 

Total votes: 46

1. Ignoring safety on the grid
2. Punting rider one
3. Punting rider two

Punishment:
- Miss the next GP

How else can you teach these youngsters?
Oh, he's not that young any more, you say? Difficult to tell from that level of immaturity.

Total votes: 60

Good call, David, and brave too. Not many journos would have the courage to say, no, THIS is the important story, THAT one is soap. (I’ll enjoy riffling through the dirty laundry like everyone else of course).

And it was indeed a cracking race. It may not seem that way right now but I won’t be surprised if, within a few years, we talk about that Argentina race in ‘18 where the satellites first beat the pants off most of the factories with no especially extenuating circumstances. I think we’re going to see this again from here on.

I have to say I’m unimpressed by Cal’s tirade, that level of egoism and sense of entitlement is never attractive. And Miller is going up in my estimation - what a sound, sanguine view on the world. I so wanted him to at least get a podium, but I’m glad he’s happy with what he got. 

Total votes: 47

Of course being British I'm delighted, no wins at all since I started watching in 1995 and now another, I won't complain.

 

But the top four deserve all credit for showing the superstars how to do it. 

Total votes: 47

It is interesting that the rider handling his situation with the most maturity is the one who was kicked in the teeth the most - & by the officials. Jack Miller. I wonder how the restart would have been handled if it had been (say) Rossi who had chosen the correct tyres?

Total votes: 59

just to get into the points has done wonders for Miller - rather than the spoiled brat teenager who felt entitled to the Moto3 championship (that he of course did not win), he now is grateful to be on a bike that lets him competein MotoGP rather than being exiled to a second rate WSBK ride.

Other riders (note plural) would have benefitted from some adversity prior to winning multiple championships.

Total votes: 54

Anyone notice that?

Also, anyone else notice that four different manufacturers' bikes (with four very talented riders) were in a close race for first place for a fair number of laps? It has been a while since we had that.

Excepting the silly stuff back in the field and the resultant shameful hyperbole over it, this year's Argentina race rates very highly in my estimation.

Total votes: 36

 I'm surprised no one commented on Cal's complete lack of decorum during the playing of his national anthem. It was embarrassing to watch and I'm American.

Total votes: 55

Because it's an outdated nonsense, with no place on the podium?
Plus, it's a truly dreadful tune.

Total votes: 57

You can't tell Americans that flags and anthems are nonsense. They regard them (theirs, of course) as sacred relics akin to saints' foreskins and hymns from the Adi Granth.

Total votes: 52

Another angle to the start debacle is that Dorna had in place the rules to deal with leaving the grid.

Leave the grid and you start from pit lane. 

The race had been declared wet, meaning everyone was free to swap bikes AFTER the start of the race. 

The grid was set. The mess came when everybody bet on forcing Dorna to make up rules. 

What if Dorna told the teams, return to the grid with your set up and race the wet flag to flag race. 

The job of Dorna are to ensure a safe and fair race. The decided to make up rules on the fly. That created the grid mess which Marquez made even worse, then made even worse again and again. Miller got robbed. Everyone but him made the wrong choice when they headed to the grid. Not too many of them had to pay the price for that choice. 

His five row advantage was erased in a lap. If they had raced to the existing rules, I'm thinking things woud have been crazy and different. 

Total votes: 44

I wonder how RD handle the situation if the one and only rider that had choosen the correct tyre was not Miller, but Syahrin. Syahrin was started far back, how RD handle the rest?

Total votes: 44

The expectation at the start of the race if the conditions change would be that the riders would go to the pits and change bikes and continue on. The problem is that the spare bike is set up the same (wet or dry) as the other in case of a first lap crash and red flag. After the race starts the spare bike is then changed to the alternate setting to cover the flag to flag. This is what caused the delayed start because all of the spare bikes bar Miller's would have been set up for wets. Miller was punished for making the correct choice but if the race had started as normal he would have been laps in front while the spare bikes were changed. How you judge or solve this particular circumstance is the tricky bit.

Total votes: 42